The University of Akron Fitzgerald Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies Business Plan Competition

    The Fitzgerald Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Akron has hosted its business plan competition since 2002. However, the Fitzgerald Institute web site lists no information on results from the 2006 competition or details for a possible 2007 competition. All information in this article will assume that the competition is on-going.

    Competition organizers at University of Akron have traditionally divided the teams into two divisions: graduate and undergraduate categories, each with their own finalists and independent prizes. The 2005 competition awarded $3,000 to first place in each category, with second getting $2,000. The 2006 competition site does not mention the different divisions, just prizes of $2,500 for first place, $1,500 to second, and $500 for the third place winner.

    Regardless of which division applies or how much the prizes are, the contest is only open to registered University of Akron students and plans must be the original work of the students. Teams are limited to five members each.

    The University of Akron business plan competition does not only give entrepreneurs a cash prize. It also gives them valuable experience that could increase sales, the chance to network with business leaders from the northeast Ohio area, and prestige among colleagues and potential employers.

    The competition is laid out in a similar fashion to many others around the country. First, potential competitors register online and submit their 25-page business plan to contest organizers. These plans are usually due at the end of February and should address every aspect of a potential or current business.

    In the middle of March, teams are notified if they have made it to the finals, so they can begin preparing their presentations for the actual competition, held in April. The judges base 40 percent of their evaluation on the written business plan and 60 percent on the oral presentation given at the competition.